By Theresa Harrington
The Mt. Diablo school district sports community has pulled off a feat it wasn’t sure it could accomplish a year ago — it has raised $1.2 million to fund after-school athletics.
“Now, we’re starting over again for next year, which is kind of depressing,” said Pat Middendorf, Clayton Valley High athletic director, as she took a break from last-minute preparations for a Sport Aid fundraiser to be held tomorrow. “We have to. Next year is going to be a whole new matter, because it was an emotional tug for people last year. There were some one-time donations — like $100,000 here and $20,000 there — that we’re not going to have. So, we have to come up with all new strategies for next year.”
Middendorf and a handful of tireless volunteers are working on behalf of the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation to support the district’s after-school sports program, since the school board has eliminated its sports funding because of state budget cuts. The foundation includes representatives from all six district high schools who came together with an “all for one and one for all” philosophy that inspired many.
They held an enormously successful 5k run last fall and asked parents of athletes to pay donations to help fund coaches, equipment, transportation, league fees and other costs. This was in addition to fundraising that team boosters were already doing to pay costs that were never covered by the district, Middendorf said.
With a continued bleak budget outlook next year, the foundation is launching its 2010-11 fundraising campaign at the Sport Aid 2010 dinner, dance and auction, which begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 22 at the Pyramind Ale House in Walnut Creek. Tickets cost $75 per person or $125 per couple. Or, $700 will get you a premier table for 10.
The event will kick-off with a silent auction and cocktails, followed by dinner and a live auction at 7 p.m., then dancing at 8:30 p.m. Attendees can hobnob with special guests including retired Golden State Warriors basketball player Chris Mullin, Oakland Raiders football players Sam Williams and Marcel Reece, retired Raider Art Thoms and Jeff Tedford, Cal Bears head football coach.
Organizers hope to sell 200 tickets. By this afternoon, they reached 170, Middendorf told me.
“We’ll sell tickets right up to the end,” she said. “For some reason, we’ve had this huge jump today. We’ve still got 30, but I think we’ll plan for the whole 200.”
Although she’s pleased by this level of support, Middendorf doesn’t want anyone to think it’s going to be easy to meet the $1.2 million fundraising goal again. In this economy, with state budget cuts eating away at education and social services, district athletes are not the only ones asking for money.
“There’s more people in the same boat — school groups and certain charities,” she said. “But the school groups are the ones that are really desperate right now. I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So, it’s going to be tough.”
More information about the foundation is at www.unitedmtdiabloathletics.org.
By Theresa Harrington